Every year our fire crews deal with an average of 6000 chimney fires, the majority of these could actually be prevented. This month we identify the main causes of chimney fires and how you can reduce your risk!

Common causes of a chimney fire:

Incorrectly sized appliances:

  • One of the most common causes of chimney fires is the use of incorrectly sized appliances.
  • Ensure a certified professional installs your fireplace, this way you can guarantee that your chimney flue is big enough to cope.
  • Regulations require all wood burning stoves installed after April 2006 to have a HETAS certificate.  The certificate demonstrates that the installation complies with the relevant Building Regulations. The information on the certificate is used to record your installation, and in England & Wales it is used to notify your Local Authority Building Control Department (LABC) of the work that was undertaken. This self certification takes the place of a Local Authority Building Notice. The information can be required to validate your home insurance and will be required in any home selling process. Failure to notify the Local Authority can be an offence resulting in enforcement action.

Burning the wrong type of fuel:

  • Do not burn unseasoned wet wood. Use dried firewood with a moisture content of no more than 17%

Poor maintenance:

  • Irregular cleaning and poor maintenance of your fireplace can lead to a build up in soot and debris (including bird’s nests) which can contribute to the risk of a chimney fire.
  • Ensure you get your chimney regularly cleaned and inspected.

Leaving your fire burning for long periods of time:

  • Leaving your fire burning whilst you are out of the house, or whilst you go to bed is extremely dangerous.
  • Make sure your fire is properly put out and any embers extinguished before you leave the house or go the bed.
  • Also, we advise that you use a proper fire guard to protect against hot embers and sparks.

Finally...

If you have a thatched property check with your insurance provider may have as they often require extra fire precautions.

Another danger linked to chimneys and flues is carbon monoxide poisoning. If for any reason your chimney flue stops extracting the fumes from your fireplace, you could be at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning. This is another reason to make sure you have your chimney properly cleaned and inspected regularly throughout the year. Carbon monoxide alarms are also widely available, and we recommend installing one in every room that has a solid fuel burning appliance. Carbon monoxide is an odourless gas and it is hard to detect a leak, you could lose consciousness without ever realising there was a problem!

If the worst does happen and a fire breaks out in your home, a smoke alarm could save your life. Test your smoke alarm and your C02 (carbon monoxide) alarm on a regular basis throughout the year. Your life could depend on it

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